Usually when a team trades for a proven NHLer, its fan base shows optimism while hyping up the new acquisition. But when the team is Montreal and the player is Tomas Kaberle, the reaction is “Why?”
There are plenty of reasons to doubt Kaberle. After all, the Habs will be taking on $4.25 million for two more seasons after this season for a defenseman that they won’t need once Andrei Markov returns. The most telling comment about Kaberle had to be from Canes GM Jim Rutherford, who said, “I should have known better,” when referring to his decision to sign him. I’m sure Rutherford didn’t make that comment while he was attempting to work that deal with Montreal!
So does all the cynicism and doubt about a player who has been in four different NHL organizations in 2011 mean that he is a player that you should ignore in fantasy leagues? Let’s discuss the road ahead for Kaberle, along with a few other players who have been noteworthy recently.
Tomas Kaberle, D, MON – start
The Tomas Kaberle era in Carolina concluded without a single goal, along with only nine assists and a (-9) in 29 games – clearly bust material in fantasy leagues. He’ll begin his time with the Canadiens on Saturday in a matinee against New Jersey, a game in which the Habs will desperately need him. With Markov reportedly out until after the All-Star break, Kaberle will be counted on to log major power-play minutes for a team that is 29th in power-play percentage while receiving very little scoring from the blueline. Smile, Montreal fans – it’s a clean sheet of ice for Kaberle, and for some players it’s a matter of finding the right team.
Milan Michalek, LW, OTT – start
Who would have guessed that Michalek would be leading the NHL in goals at this point in the season? Michalek’s 18 goals has equaled his total from last season in less than half the number of games played. Michalek has found chemistry with Jason Spezza, and the two are playing inspired, competitive hockey under new coach Paul MacLean. Saturday’s test against the red-hot Canucks won’t be easy, but the Sens’ top line might make an impression on Hockey Night in Canada.
Scott Hartnell, LW, PHI – start
Hartnell and his hair are currently on a four-game goal streak. After a slow start, Hartnell has seven goals in his last nine games and 13 goals on the season. He and the Flyers are facing a porous Tampa Bay defense ranked in bottom third of league, so Hartnell should be a must-start for Saturday.
Olli Jokinen, C, CGY – start
Speaking of hair, Jokinen has grown his out (by his terms), which may be the key to his recent success. Maybe that’s not the real reason, but Roli Polli Olli (you’ll understand that reference if you watch Canadian kids shows) has three goals and six points in his last four games, benefitting from lining up alongside Jarome Iginla. In case you were wondering if Jokinen had fallen off the face of the earth, he is back and perhaps worth a pickup.
Artem Anisimov, C, NYR – add/start
If your name is Teemu Selanne and you’re shooting down Mike Bossy’s rookie record for goals, then motioning your stick like a machine gun is perfectly okay. But if your name is Artem Anisimov and you’re scoring your fifth goal of the season against Tampa Bay, well… not so much. But it’s worth mentioning that Anisimov has goals in three consecutive games and points in four consecutive games. The 16 penalty minutes from the brew-ha-ha on Thursday will artificially inflate his ranking, but he’s still worth adding in deeper leagues.
Patrick Marleau, LW, SJ – bench
Marleau can be maddeningly streaky for a top-50 fantasy option. Not only is he without a point in his last five games, but he has also been bumped down to the third line with Michal Handzus and Jamie McGinn. Marleau will eventually pick things up as he usually does, but facing perhaps the NHL’s hottest goalie this season (Brian Elliott) won’t be easy for the sniping Shark.
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